Octopus Salad

  • 4 or 5 baby octopus, about five pounds
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of finely chopped celery
  • 15 pitted California block olives
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 8 to 12 tablespoons lemon juice, according to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, snipped with scissors, or use one teaspoon dried
  1. Have a fish dealer prepare the octopus for cooking
  2. Bring a large quantity of water to a boil and add the octopus, one or two at a time. When the water returns to the boil and remove. Let cool briefly. Repeat this one more time. Cook all the octopus in the same fashion and let cool
  3. Bring another large quantity of water to a boil and add salt to taste. Add all the octopus and simmer 20 to 40 minutes or until the octopus are tender. Cooking time will depend on the size and age of the octopus. When the octopus are tender, drain them and chill under cold running water.
  4. Cut off and discard any non-fleshy parts of the octopus if there are any. If the “beak,” a plasticlike small ball, is in an octopus, remove and discard it.
  5. Cut the octopus into bite size pieces. There should be about five cups.
  6. Place the octopus pieces in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss to blend and let stand an hour or longer before serving.

Yield: 12 or more servings

Picture 007

Filetti di Pomodoro

(Tomato and Onion Sauce)

  • 8 cups of canned tomatoes, preferably imported from Italy
  • ¼ pound lard
  • 1/3 pound ham, preferably prosciutto, cut into very thin strips, about 1 ½ cups
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly snipped basil leaves or one tablespoon dried crushed basil


  1. Using the hands, crush the tomatoes
  2. Heat lard and add the onions. Cook, stirring often until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the ham and cook five minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook about two hours, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add salt, pepper and basil.

Yield: about six cups of sauce.

Picture 008

Spiedini alla Romana

(Skewered, deep fried mozzarella sandwiches)

  • 14 slices ordinary, supermarket white bread with crust
  • Sliced mozzarella cheese, each slice about a quarter inch thick, or slightly thicker (see instructions in paragraph below
  • Flour for dredging
  • 5 eggs well beaten
  • Fat for deep frying

The Anchovy Sauce:

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 10 anchovies
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup drained capers, optional
  • ½ cup brown beef gravy, available in cans
  1. Trim the crust from the bread to make neat squares (see note). If you can purchase mozzarella cheese in a loaf shape (the loaf size is approximately that of a loaf of bread) cut off 12 slices, matching the shape and sizes of the bread slices as closely as possible. Make two stacks of sandwiches and bread slices top and bottom. If regular package of mozzarella is used, proceed differently. Cut the bread squares in half to make 28 rectangles. Cut the mozzarella into 24 slices, matching the shape and sizes of the rectangles of bread as closely as possible. Make four stacks of sandwiches with slices of bread top and bottom. Secure each sandwich with two skewers, to hold the sandwiches together as they cook.
  2. Dredge all the skewered sandwiches in flour. Coat thoroughly with the egg and place the sandwiches on a rack until ready to fry. This may be done half an hour or so in advance
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Heat the oil for deep frying and when is very hot and almost smoking add the sandwiches. Cook about three minutes turning once, or until golden brown all over. It may be necessary to fry the sandwiches in two steps. Drain on paper towel
  5. Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer briefly, stirring until anchovies are “melted” and the sauce smooth.
  6. Place the skewered sandwiches on a buttered dish and bake about five minutes or until sandwiches are piping hot throughout. Remove the skewers, cut each sandwich crosswise into two or three portions. Serve with the anchovy sauce spooned on top

Yield: Eight to twelve servings.

Note: it is possible and perhaps much easier to simplify the preparation of this dish as follows: Use two rectangles of bread and fill with a half-inch thick slice of mozzarella cut to fit the size and shape of the rectangle as closely as possible. Skewer the sandwich and dip it first in flour, then in beaten egg. Deep fry in hot oil and serve with anchovy sauce